Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre (Twenty 7)
Publication date: 20th October 2016 (Paperback)
Seemingly tranquil lives feel the catastrophic shockwaves of cyber-bullying in Saving Phoebe Murrow. As this deplorable action chips away at the protective veneer of their material things and apparent success, I found myself asking if the repercussions would be the catalyst to modify their superficial behaviour.
Unfortunately, the questionable conduct of others has devastating consequences for almost 14 year old Phoebe Murrow. Her story shows the dark side of social media and how the internet can be an effective shield to protect those fuelled by misunderstandings and cruelty while they effectively destroy their chosen target – an all too frighteningly real scenario.
Phoebe’s mother, snobby Isabel Winthrop (who doesn’t like the name Murrow so kept her maiden name), appears to be in complete control while orchestrating the way her daughter should behave, and that extends to which friends she thinks would be good for her.
And there’s an unforgiving wedge if ever there was one, and the divide grows wider as Isobel subtly distances her daughter from certain acquaintances who don’t meet the ‘Isabel criteria’. She weighs up the benefits of her decision against her daughter’s history of self-harming and believes she’s acting in her best interests. But rejection is a delicate matter and may have reprisals if not handled tactfully.
Over the months preceding a desperately tragic event involving Phoebe we learn that Isabel, along with most other parents, would do anything for their children despite having opposing views of what is good for them. Most are judgemental in their own peculiar way and as a result are losing sight of the important issues obscured by their own determination.
Mechanically indulging their children and spouses, the parents seem content to keep up appearances with satisfactory results. Those who are not experiencing this level of ‘success’ conjure legitimate reasons for why they deserve better. But with the bar is set so damned high it’s inevitable that no one is ever going to reach it, not even in fiction.
The sensitive topics running throughout this book attracted some infuriating characters to stir things up. Were they fake, fickle, or utterly convinced that their decisions would make their lives better? Well, the adults were just as hormonal and reckless than the teens at times and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that one or two of the mums had received coaching from the Stepford Wives! Perhaps that’s the point as it begs the question: is it possible for any of them to eventually realise what’s right rather than what affects their highly prized social status, or will the impressions from their own childhood continue to influence everything they do?
Saving Phoebe Murrow explores the motivation that drives people to take alarming steps in order to feed their own misguided agenda until the tension of the parent-teenager relationship is tested to breaking point. The real tragedy is that unless some of them remove their blinkers they will never be able to see what truly matters, or how their actions have the power to make or break others.
(I received a copy of this title from the publishers with my thanks, and this is my unbiased review.)
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO BE THE PERFECT MOTHER?
A timeless story of mothers and daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist, this heart-wrenching debut for fans of Jodi Picoult, Jane Shemilt and The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas will make you question how you and your family spend time online.
Isabel Murrow is precariously balancing her career and her family. Hard-working and caring, worried but supportive, all Isabel wants, in a perilous world of bullies and temptations, is to keep her daughter Phoebe safe.
Phoebe has just attempted suicide. She says it is Isabel’s fault.
Saving Phoebe Murrow is a timely tale about an age-old problem – how best to raise our children, and how far to go in keeping them from harm. Set amidst the complicated web of relationships at the school gate, it tells a story of miscommunication and malice, drugs and Facebook, prejudice and revenge.
(Courtesy of Publisher’s Press Release)
Herta Feely is a writer and full-time editor. In her previous work she was a journalist, press secretary and activist, co-funding Safe Kids Worldwide, an organisation dedicated to saving children from unintentional injuries. Herta has received the American Independent Writers’ award for best personal essay.
She now lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and two cats, Monty and Albert. She has two sons, Jack and Max.